Sundance 2015 Awards: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' Wins Big
by Alex Billington
January 31, 2015
The official awards for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We've been anxiously awaiting the results of the awards at Sundance, and now we know who won big - Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, starring Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke. It landed yet another double header win - Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, which puts it up there with the likes of Whiplash last year, Precious and Fruitvale as other big double-header winners. There were plenty of other excellent awards and jury prizes given out, so read on for the full list of 2015 winners.
Here's the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2015 festival wraps up this weekend.
2015 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews) — Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: The Wolfpack (Director: Crystal Moselle) — Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and re-create meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Slow West / United Kingdom, New Zealand (Director & Screenwriter: John Maclean) — Set at the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas, a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: The Russian Woodpecker / United Kingdom (Director: Chad Gracia) — A Ukrainian victim of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and must decide whether to risk his life by revealing it, amid growing clouds of revolution and war.
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: The Witch (Director & Screenwriter: Robert Eggers) — New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Dreamcatcher / United Kingdom (Director: Kim Longinotto) — Dreamcatcher takes us into a hidden world seen through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: The Summer of Sangaile / Lithuania, France, The Netherlands (Director & Screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté) — Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, near her parents’ lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and, in the process, finds in her teenage love, the only person that truly encourages her to fly.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Tim Talbott for The Stanford Prison Experiment (Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Screenwriter: Tim Talbott) — Based on the actual events that took place in 1971, when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact was presented to: 3½ MINUTES (Director: Marc Silver) — On November 23, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot at a Jacksonville gas station by Michael David Dunn. 3½ MINUTES explores the aftermath of Jordan's tragic death, the latent and often unseen effects of racism, and the contradictions of the American criminal justice system.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking was presented to: Western (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross) — For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life. Western portrays timeless American figures in the grip of unforgiving change.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature was presented to: (T)ERROR (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe) — With unprecedented access to a covert counterterrorism sting, (T)ERROR develops in real time, documenting the action as it unfolds on the ground. Viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government's counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented to: Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented to: Brandon Trost for The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Director & Screenwriter: Marielle Heller) — Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she's sleeping with her mother's boyfriend. Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing was presented to: Lee Haugen for Dope (Director & Screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa) — Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision was presented to: Advantageous (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) — In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access was presented to: The Chinese Mayor / China (Director: Hao Zhou) — Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China’s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact was presented to: Pervert Park / Sweden, Denmark (Directors: Frida Barkfors, Lasse Barkfors) — Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed.
2015 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews) — Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura: Meru (Directors: Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi) — Three elite mountain climbers sacrifice everything but their friendship as they struggle through heartbreaking loss and nature’s harshest elements to attempt the never-before-completed Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most coveted first ascent in the dangerous game of Himalayan big wall climbing.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Umrika / India (Director & Screenwriter: Prashant Nair) — When a young village boy discovers that his brother, long believed to be in America, has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, all the while searching for him.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Dark Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Louise Osmond) — Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a workingman's club who decide to take on the elite "sport of kings" and breed themselves a racehorse.
The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe: James White (Director & Screenwriter: Josh Mond) — A young New Yorker struggles to take control of his reckless, self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges.
Congrats to all of 2015's winners! I'm actually quite satisfied with this year's set of awards, as many of the stand out films got recognized, though that's not to say there are many, many other excellent films from the festival. I'm very happy for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, as I am a very big fan of the film, it won me over, and it's going to breakout into the mainstream with Fox Searchlight backing it. Some of my favorite documentaries, including Call Me Lucky and Best of Enemies, didn't get much of a mention but I'll be talking about them as much as I can anyway. As always, these are only Sundance awards and not the only good films from the fest, but this wraps up yet another year. Recap the last of our Sundance 2015 coverage.